"Usability" refers to the ease with which people can use a website in order to achieve their goal. Principles of usability help people of all abilities, using any web browser, to make the most of the content provided.
Review Your Site's Usability: Ask yourself these questions as you look again at the pages of your site.
Rocket Surgery Made Easy is a fantastic resource for learning about and running usability tests. It’s amazingly powerful to watch people try to use your site. With frequent usability tests, you can often catch (and fix) the most glaring errors.
Don’t argue. Test. When egos or ideas conflict during the process of building and maintaining a website, it’s invaluable to refer to test results—or more powerful yet, video—of people utterly failing at some critical task—or succeeding at something that everyone thought would be just awful. Find out what works instead of speculating about it!
Measuring user engagement on a larger scale than is possible with in-person usability tests can often be helpful. Running Content Experiments with Google will let you compare the performance of different versions of a page to see whether one of them performs quantifiably better than the other.
- Usability Guidelines for Non-Profit Web Sites covers all the basics of creating a site that's clear, clean, and easy to navigate.
Tips for writing great links really covers it all.
- Meaningful Links (do not use "click here")
- Brief Links (try for 1-3 words and no more than 8)
- Don't Open Links in New Windows
- Use Sidebar Content Sparingly (content that looks like ads tends to be ignored)
Headers and White Space
- White Space (your reader's best friend for quick scanning)
- Meaningful Headers (don't make your reader "work")
- Limited Bold (bold text causes eye fatigue)
- Plain Links (underlined text is already harder to read)
- Lower Case (don't "shout" at your readers while reducing their comprehension)
- Best Images (some images lend themselves to web use better than others)
- Don't create pages (or links to pages) that have no content or that are "under construction." Instead, there are two good options to minimize user frustration.